By Russ Ramsey
The bottom shelf in my study is lined with spines that mean more to me than any of the other books in my library. They are prayer journals from my early years as a Christian. Those journals—each a different size and binding—are more than just diaries. They are relics of a young faith—the pontifications, supplications, and declarations of adoration from an earnest teenaged believer.
Every so often, I take one off the shelf and read over what I wrote over half my life ago: prayers about girls I liked, dreams I had, sins I wanted to kick, progress I believed I’d made in life, discoveries I had made about God from Scripture. Honestly, I’m embarrassed by a lot of what I wrote. I would hate for the world to see those prayers outside the context of the youth that produced them. But I also cherish them because they are a record of the beginning of my spiritual journey, and they bear witness to the fact that my earliest days as a follower of Christ were shaped by prayer.
Jesus told us that in this world we will have trouble and suffering (John 16:33). He also told us that it was good for us that He should leave, because He would send His Spirit to live inside our hearts as our Counselor (v.7). These two promises tell us some important things. First, there is plenty of reason to pray, and second, the Lord is near and He hears us. No wonder the apostle Paul told the Romans to rejoice in hope, be patient in affliction, and be persistent in prayer (Romans 12:12). Our prayers reach the ears of God.
My prayer habits have changed over the years, though I always have some sort of journal going. When I look at those prayer journals from my early years as a Christian, I think about persistence in prayer. I think of how I’ve grown and how, in many ways, I’m not that different from my younger self. But mostly, I think of the kindness of God over the years, His steady presence and faithfulness revealed by the passage of time.
Prayer as a spiritual discipline is about more than asking God for things. It is about learning to move through this life in one long extended conversation with the Lord, where every thought has an audience of One. It is about learning a language that will carry on into eternity, one we will become fluent in one day—the language of the kingdom of God, where worshippers will live with unrestricted access to the throne of grace. It is about learning to commune with our Maker. Prayer here and now is preparation for an eternity of communicating with God.
Written by Russ Ramsey